Off-the-shelf Open Baffle (OB) Speakers Talks/Impressions/Discussions

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Vtory, May 22, 2020.

  1. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    I hope it's not just me who want to enjoy OBs without doing a lot of DIY or needing good space to work on baffle/enclosure. While PAP Trio gained awareness and popularity among this forum, thought a more general off-the-shelf OB thread beneficial to share idea among broader spectrum of people/speakers.

    Aside: Trio thread has lots of useful and educational info.. OB folks should check out that thread even if pap is not in your radar.

    The primary scope of this thread is set by (1) off-the-shelf and (2) OB speakers (hybrids included) that are (3) currently or reasonably available (OOP included).
    Planars and electrostats (and hybrids based on them) are a little tricky. They’re different from dynamic cone driver OBs in user experience. Requires very high current and quite sensitive to placements), but any talks or discussions regarding them won't be discouraged.

    Below is the list of (dynamic) OB manufacturers and their products currently available on the market. Any suggestion to add to this list is welcome

    -------

    1. Caintuck Audio / Betsy: http://www.caintuckaudio.com/

    [​IMG]


    2. Decware / ZOB, ZF, ZC lines : https://www.decware.com/newsite/ZOB.html

    [​IMG]


    3. Emerald Physics / KC and EP lines : https://www.emeraldphysics.com/categories/panel-speakers

    [​IMG]


    4. Icono Audio / IAQ-1 : http://www.iconoaudio.com/

    [​IMG]


    5. Kyron Audio / Kronos and Gaia : http://kyronaudio.com.au/kronos.html

    [​IMG]


    6. The Lotus Group / Granada : http://lotusgroupusa.com/Granada.htm

    [​IMG]


    7. Manzanita / Manzanita CV, Widow Maker : https://manzanita-audio.com/widow-maker-series

    [​IMG]


    8. Oswald Mill Audio / Ironic : https://oswaldsmillaudio.com/ironic

    [​IMG]


    9. Perfect Technologies / The Force : http://www.perfect8.com/force.htm

    [​IMG]


    10. Pure Audio Project / Duet, Trio, and Quintet lines : http://www.pureaudioproject.com/

    [​IMG]


    11. Soundfield Audio / OBT1 : https://soundfieldaudio.net/obt1

    [​IMG]


    12. Spatial Audio / M, X, Lumia lines : https://www.spatialaudio.us/

    [​IMG]


    13. Triart Audio / S and B lines : https://www.triartaudio.com/?page_id=3351

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    14. Legacy Audio / Whisper XDS : https://legacyaudio.com/products/view/whisper-xd/

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    15. MagicLX / LX lines : https://www.magiclx521.com/
    (Originally designed by Siegfried Linkwitz, sold as DIY kits/plans, and finished products sold via MagicLX)

    [​IMG]


    16. Jamo / R907 and R909 : https://www.jamo.com/products/r909

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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  2. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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  3. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    [​IMG]

    Spatial Audio Hologram M3 Turbo S (M3TS) one-week impression


    Rig :
    • Bifrost 2 unison --> Hood 1969 --> M3TS
    Placement:
    It's been one week since the two sleek black panels entered my room. Now I seem to get some idea about what these OB speakers are capable of and what they can do for my taste.

    Honestly speaking, the first day, my initial feeling was confusion -- slightly siding with disappointment. Leaner bass, forwarding treble, and somewhat dry presentation. There were a lot of red-ish signals suggesting these might not be my cup of tea. Looking back, the whole experience largely resembles that of sr1a adoption, in that I need some brain-wash period to detach from what I used previously: Verite when SR1a, and this time around Vela -- both were anti-neutral enough for me to (almost) reject anything else.

    Two days later, they suddenly started to open up... sounding like a thing. All such imply that my brain broke in well, and I was ready to accept something quite different. Anyway, time to dance.

    I don't know whether Clayton [email protected] likes vintage JBL or not. But I believe so as these speakers strongly reminded me of some JBL speakers I previously heard or owned. Specifically, two specific models come into mind: 4343 and 4425 (4343 for overall tonal balance and 4425 for highs). Among headphones, the closest experience I think is HD600 or SR1a. Take an average between the two, transform to speakers sounding, and add OB characters, then it's pretty much like what I am hearing now.

    Like other 15-inch OBs, M3TS doesn't go as low as box speakers with this size woofers. Starting from 50hz or even above, sound pressure gently drops and I don't think I can hear anything below 30hz. Yeah, physics. No surprise. Nevertheless, I love M3TS bass quite a lot. It's punchy, fast, authoritative, and well articulated around 50-100hz, which I think in most genres more important than lower registers. A sub or two may help to go really deeper, but I don't bother (or I am just self-justifying so as an apartment dweller lol).

    Midrange is not bad. Around 800hz crossover point 15 inch woofers and titanium compression drivers connect surprisingly smoothly. I'm assuming lower order circuit with smart design do their jobs well. And because of that, these speakers disappear decently fast, if not faster than Elac Velas. Vocals occasionally sound rough but in a life-like way. Both female and male voices have good body. M3TS delineate emotion and soul in the tracks I tried, much better than Velas. Hi hat and cymbals have acceptable to great (varies across tracks) meat, too.

    Treble took me some time to develop familiarity, but once I got accustomed to M3TS highs, I found I keep returning to treble-heavy tracks with these speakers. In general I think compression drivers are either hit or miss (JBL most likely hit though). Spatial's tweeters are hit -- can mark many items in my evaluation criteria. Vocals and sax are a little harder than I would like but presence and overtone are fantastic. They don't infuse airs and reverbs like Velas, but sizzling and crisp sounding mesmerize me equivalently.

    After some meh experience with KEFs (in particular LS50; recent gen got a little better), coaxial drivers lost my attention. However, similar structure of M3TS doesn't disappoint me. I couldn't find shit sounds of "moving" wave-guides with these speakers. No idea what tricks or black magic used to compensate that.

    I initially thought they were too forwarding, shouty, and a little sibilant. But after I threw in the most terrible recordings (in terms of close-mics or nasty sibilance poorly or un- adjusted), I had to admit I was wrong. They're still a bit more forwarding and fatiguing than Velas, but way less so than the rest of my speaker experience.

    Pinpoint imaging and wide staging are the highlight of the show. While stage depth leaves room to desire and metallic+artificial feeling slightly bothers me, I was amazed by how easy it is to identify and follow each part even in the densest and most multi-tracked mix I played. All of these don't require grands of cash spent to upstream. Bifrost 2 + Hood were spot on.

    Indeed, Hood paired extremely well. I generally prefer my the other amp (Accuphase clone) in most applications including Velas, SR1a, HE6, and previous loudspeakers. But this time around very high sensitivity (94db/Wm; at 8 feet, I barely crank up beyond 8:30) and easy load (simpler crossover? just guessing so) lead Hood to a clear win. I bet Aegir would be also pretty good.. but not motivated to go that way at the moment as Hood already does a perfect job in driving m3ts to my liking.

    As I posted in the profile before, Velas still hold their own. Their airs and top ends are insane, and uniquely help me enjoy many crap recordings by faking them as if great ones. M3TS is unfortunately more honest and less forgiving than Velas.

    That's it for now. Will update more as I find something new and interesting with these speakers.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  4. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Don't forget large panels like Magnapan or Martin Logan

    Also while primarily promoted as a DIY speaker, the LX521 is available as a finished speaker

    https://www.magiclx521.com/
     
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  5. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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  6. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Thanks for reporting LX521s and Jamo. I didn't know the place to buy LX stuffs as finished products. Now updated.

    Will update others soon.

    Thought non-dynamic planars and estats might be a little different as they have to deal with their own characters and challenges (saying this as an ex-maggie owner). But if sbaf doesn't have a dedicated thread, they may be also worthy to be discussed here. Will comment this in the first post, too.
     
  7. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Speaking of Maggies, I have to add this to my M3TS impression.

    I've owned entry maggies before shortly, and while I love their general characters, their "purer" dipole character (i.e., dipole all over the spectrum) made them very sensitive to placement, room acoustics, and treatment. Also I thought they required monster power to sing. While maggie prices per se seem affordable, there need a lot of hidden costs owners should pay. I ended up returning them before trial period expired.

    Hybrid martin logans were not my cup of tea (even in the well-treated demo rooms). Heard many good things about their and Quad's full range panels, but I guess they would be acoustically similar with maggies. Couldn't pull the trigger.

    Spatials did much better in acoustically challenging space and I believe it largely common with other dynamic OBs. For my M3TS, during the self-experiment, I intentionally pull them to the front walls (only away by 1 feet or so). The result was very encouraging. While some loss in staging occurred and mid-bass showed some bumps, surprisingly enjoyable. More so than box speakers in the same conditions. Room to breathe is desirable, but not as critical as box speakers -- and way way easier to place than planar dipoles. Clayton's recommendation of "3 feet away from front wall and 1 feet from side walls" is spot on but these speakers seem pretty generous even when that guideline may not hold.
     
  8. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Quick shootout: Hologram M3TS (Spatial) vs. Vela BS403 (Elac)

    During the past two days, I ABed these two pairs of speakers with quite a lot tracks that don't have much info below 45hz. Full rigs tested were (1) Bifrost 2 --> Hood --> Holograms and (2) Bifrost 2 --> (NanoPatch +) Accuphase Clone --> Velas. SYS distributed Bifrost's unbalanced outs to each amp.

    Aside: Having SYS (Schiit) in the house is more convenient than many might overlook, as it can do "output selector" duties. It makes many comparative listening more enjoyable (= less action costs).​

    Both speakers were placed where they performed best in my 12x22 room. Holograms were 7 feets away from each other, 3.5 feets away from the front wall, 1.5 feets away from the side walls, and 8 feets away from the listening position. Velas drew a smaller triangle: 6 feets from each other and the listening position, 2.5 feets from the side walls, and 5.5 feets from the front wall.

    EDIT: Thought Holograms were configured in 2.5 ways like PAP Trio15s. However, as @JuleZ3C pointed point, their crossover didn't do anything below 100hz, implying both woofers move identically. I verified it by myself, too. This actually explains my perception of super clean but lean bass (considering rather small baffle sizes). Interesting to see newer Sapphires (2.5 way) are loved by many spatial fans -- probably at an expense of a little clarity or transparency in lower registers I suspect.​

    Interestingly both sets of speakers cost not that different not only in MSRPs (Note: Holograms are OOP now) but also in the actual amounts paid.

    Some thoughts
    • Size matters. Let me repeat again. Size hella matters. Even for upper bass and lower mids, Holograms' dual eminence 15-inch woofers did a lot of things much righter than Velas' 6-inch ones. All the micro stuff (details, dynamics, plankton, articulation, etc) got better with Holograms (let alone macro criteria). It's not even a contest. I liked Velas regarding a little more mid bass bump and thicker sounding though. I'm pretty sure that even with an affordable (<1k) sub or two Velas can't compete well (from the memory of two subs in the previous place).
    • Upper midrange was fuller and meatier with Velas' woofers, but clearer and cleaner with Hologram's CD compression drivers. Velas sound more natural but a little veiled by comparison, perhaps due to uncontrolled side dispersion/reflection. Can't decide which one I prefer more. Very dependent on recording quality, style, and genres.
    • Velas' JET twitters were far less fatiguing in lower highs by comparison. Way more luxurious, refined, and smoothed. While I don't bother with Holograms' highs any more, they weren't quite there when ABed both. Velas continue to win in top ends and extra airs. Again, Ti compression drivers did their jobs very well. But JETs were just in a whole upper league.
    • With the current placement, Velas seemed to pull the stages quite far from myself. Stage width and depth were top notch. I still think Velas can rival any small monitors I tried. Switching to Hologram, however, I was purely wowed. Everything regarding staging and imaging became closer (but not overly so), bigger, sharper (in a good way), and more articulate.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
  9. JuleZ3C

    JuleZ3C Acquaintance

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    You might be thinking about the new X3 / X5, the discontinued M3 T / TS / TM (?) have both woofers (white/black pairs) connected to the same crossover points :
    [​IMG]
    (not my picture, comes from audiocircle)
     
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  10. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Good catch. I've just confirmed both woofers sounded identically with 50-70hz tones. Thanks!
     
  11. ruinevil

    ruinevil Rando

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    I have the Magnepan LRS at this very second. I am 20 days into the first 30 days (where you can return the speaker for shipping costs). It's a great speaker for simple things, you get the single driver soundstage and imaging and a level of clarity that you can't get from boxes. They are pretty dynamic too, especially since I am powering them with 2 900W bridged pro power amplifiers. If you are just playing midbass, it will sound rich and dynamic. If you are just playing midrange and highs, that will also rich and dynamic.

    Unfortunately the single driver design causes sound compression when playing anything that uses the entire frequency spectrum. You lose all of that dynamic sound. It becomes a $5 overdriven speaker,

    I have another single driver speaker, the Fibhorn 2, a kind of flared transmission line speaker, which is not dynamic at all. However it just won't play what it can't. Whatever it can do, it can always do.

    I'm going to get my old Panasonic SA-XR55 out and try to run a subwoofer with these speakers to see if I can get the dynamics back. It has a has a high pass filter with subwoofer out.

    I also have a Hawthorne Silver Iris in a JElab style baffle, but it's technically not off the shelf, and therefore out of scope here.
     
  12. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    @ruinevil Thanks for sharing your exp. That reminded me of good old maggie days. Tried my best to love 1.7 but ultimately gave up for several reasons (including what you've covered). To me lower treble was the dealbreaker. My conclusion was maggie (and quad for the same reasons) would benefit super rich people (or rural folks) who can afford a large enough house and complete freedom to mess with placements -- at least not for apartment dwellers.

    Still miss maggies' great top end extension and airs. But won't go back there until I become semi-orfas. 15 inches + compression drivers are more practical solution solidly meeting my expectation if not perfectly. Still dreaming of amt or ribbon tweeters though.
     

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